We develop design and construction strategies focused on social impact


what we do

We collaborate with NGOs, municipal agencies, grassroots groups and individuals to:

Design and build spaces for underserved communities

Provide construction management in non-standard situations (e.g. No power, no running water, unskilled crew) for community design projects

Teach hands-on workshops on sustainable construction techniques

what we believe in

1. Applying the principles of participatory design: all stakeholders are involved in the design process. Projects are the result of many voices and many hands.

2. Creating contextual projects that have a strong dialogue with its surroundings, its users and local culture.

3. Understanding of the cultural and socio-economic background of each project through extensive research and experimentation before and during the design and construction phases.

4. Using local materials for sustainable and economical results,

5. Employing the local people.

6. Training in skills that support self-construction and foster self-sustaining communities.

7. Finding the appropriate balance between new and vernacular construction techniques.

8. Integrating local crafts into architecture because buildings are craft creations too.

9. Making buildings that create a sense of ownership in individuals to ensure a successful project and its life beyond construction.

10. Using beauty as a design tool to bring dignity and empowerment to all people independently of their background.

where we do it

OFICINA DESIGN has a broad geographic focus. we have participated in projects in urban and rural settings in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Holland, Turkey and Haiti.

who we are

OFICINA DESIGN is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Joana Torres.

We create multi-disciplinary teams tailored to the needs of each project (engineers, agronomists, artists, farmers, sociologists, etc).

Joana is Portuguese architect with one foot in NYC and another foot where work calls for. She graduated in 2004 with a masters in architecture, urbanism and building sciences from the Technical University of Delft, the Netherlands. Joana has managed architectural projects in the realm of community design but also in more conventional residential and commercial projects. She previously worked with EOA, Merge Architects, JDWA and Jorge Mario Jauregui. Joana is involved on all aspects of the projects from pre-schematic design to end of construction phase.

Board Members: Joana Torres / João Xavier / Bráulio Amado / Lisa Manne

Partners and Collaborators

We work in collaboration with nonprofits, community groups, city agencies and other interested groups and individuals. Some of them are: